Volkswagen Automobile Group (VAG) chairman Ferdinand Piech has surprised the board of the German car giant by resigning from his role.
An internal power struggle between Piech and chief executive Martin Winterkorn, which saw the former attempt to oust the latter, resulted in the board throwing their support behind Winterkorn who has helped turn the manufacturer into Europe’s largest.
78-year-old Piech is known to be against entering Formula 1 with one of the brands controlled by VAG, which include Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda among others.
He is believed to dislike F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and sources close to Piech cite that as one of the biggest reasons why VW and its subsidiaries have stayed away from the sport.
Ecclestone recently said he himself would resign if it convinced Piech to field an F1 team, but that is now uneccessary given Saturday’s announcement.
The door could now be open to the company – likely through the Audi brand – joining the F1 grid, as Winterkorn is a big motorsport fan and is particularly supportive of Audi’s involvement in the DTM racing series.
Audi recently hired three ex-F1 staff members, including former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, former BMW and Williams engineer Jorg Zander and former Ferrari simulator specialist Gabriele Delicolli.
The company is also known to have conducted a feasibility study into F1 and its potential benefits, with a favourable outcome.